Eco is a sandbox game that combines features of action games and strategy games. The title was released on PC and it was developed by Strange Loop Games, a studio that created the platform game Vessel.
Eco for PC doesn’t have a strong narrative because of its sandbox gameplay structure. The players are taken to a virtual world and the events that occur there are being shaped by their own actions. The developers moved a typical sandbox gameplay to a dynamic virtual ecosystem that can be drastically changed by player’s decisions. The relationship between the players and the world is so strong that unwise and greedy users can quickly bring the ecosystem to a disaster and die because of hunger.
In Eco for PC up to one hundred players are being thrown into a wild area filled with life. There the players must create their own civilization. The game can be also played alone. The action is presented from a first person perspective and the game features similar activities like other titles in the genre. The players can explore the world, hunt animals, gather resources and construct buildings.
The environment is a dynamical system powered by thousands of artificial intelligence modules that manage living creatures and plants. The animals are migrating, hunting and breeding. The plants are growing slowly – there are no situations like a tree respawning after a few minutes from cutting it. It is very important as players’ actions greatly strain the ecosystem. For example, too intense hunts might cause species to extinct, cutting all forests will change the location into a wasteland and industrial factories will pollute lakes and rivers.
The virtual environment in Eco is very delicate. In order to survive for longer periods of time, the players must learn responsibility. Finding a balance between the need for growth and taking care of environment is required. To make things easier, the developers created easy to use analytic tools that present ecosystem changes. The tools are integrated with governing system in which players can propose specific laws and bans and the community can decide whether the propositions will be accepted.
Building construction mechanics are interesting as well. Contrary to the majority of other sandboxes, in Eco all buildings serve specific purpose in the economy – there are factories, mills, mines, bakeries, schools and libraries. Constructing buildings is also much more complicated – the materials must be gathered, then transported by using animals and finally when they are constructed, specialists must use their specific skills. These skills require cooperation because no player will be able to do everything alone. It is also possible to conduct technology research and perform scientific experiments that provide access to better inventions.